Vatican backtracks on Holy Week coronavirus statement; situation still 'being studied'

Vatican backtracks on Holy Week coronavirus statement; situation still ‘being studied’

Vatican backtracks on Holy Week coronavirus statement; situation still ‘being studied’

Police officers wearing masks patrol an empty St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 11, 2020. (Credit: Andrew Medichini/AP.)

After a Vatican office announced Saturday that all Holy Week liturgies would be livestreamed rather that celebrated publicly amid Italy’s coronavirus crackdown, a day later their communications department walked part of that back, saying the method for celebrating Holy Week is still being studied.

ROME – After a Vatican office announced Saturday that all Holy Week liturgies would be livestreamed rather that celebrated publicly amid Italy’s coronavirus crackdown, a day later their communications department walked part of that back, saying the method for celebrating Holy Week is still being studied.

On March 14, the Prefecture for the Papal Household, the office in charge of organizing papal audiences and meetings with heads of state, published a statement on its website saying that “because of the current global public health emergency, all the Liturgical Celebrations of Holy Week will take place without the physical presence of the faithful.”

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These liturgies include the April 5 celebration of Palm Sunday Mass; the pope’s Chrism Mass on Thursday of Holy Week; the Mass of the Lord’s Supper with the washing of feet on Thursday, Good Friday’s celebration of the Lord’s Passion and veneration of the Cross; Saturday’s Easter Vigil and Sunday Mass.

However, in a March 15 statement on the matter, Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni seemed to reverse part of the prefecture’s statement, saying the pope’s liturgical celebrations during Holy Week “are all confirmed.”

Regarding the question of whether people will be able to attend the celebrations, Bruni did not offer a definitive answer, but simply said that “methods of implementation and participation are being studied which respect the security measures put in place to avoid the spread of coronavirus.”

These methods, he said, will be communicated “as soon as they are defined,” and will be “in line with the evolution of the epidemiological situation.”

Regardless of whether faithful will be able to attend the papal liturgies, Bruni said they will all be broadcast live on the radio and on television, as well as streamed on the Vatican News website.

Follow Elise Ann Allen on Twitter: @eliseannallen


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